Rorate Caeli

An impressive ecumenical breakthrough
Reject false "prophetic actions"
Hold fast to sound teaching

The Pope's most impressive speech so far in his Apostolic Voyage to the United States, with many links to his epoch-making address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, as the Successor of Peter professes his "faithful witness to the Gospel" and his fidelity to "the Church of every age":

Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when - geographically and culturally speaking - they are far apart. ...The expanding use of electronic communications has in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. ... Also of grave concern is the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold.

Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are sometimes changed within communities by so-called "prophetic actions" that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of "local options". Somewhere in this process the need for diachronic koinonia - communion with the Church in every age - is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of the Gospel.
Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both Gentiles and Jews. The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus's bodily resurrection from the tomb. The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did not depend on "lofty words" or "human wisdom", but rather on the work of the Spirit who confirmed the authoritative witness of the Apostles.

...the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that science alone is "objective", relegate religion entirely to the subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries, and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not mean, however, that the "knowable" is limited to the empirically verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of "personal experience".

For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for Christian living.

Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.

Only by "holding fast" to sound teaching will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us. Like the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent witness to the "reasons for our hope", so that the eyes of all men and women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us his face and granted us access to his divine life through Jesus Christ.

He alone is our hope!

God has revealed his love for all peoples through the mystery of his Son's passion and death, and has called us to proclaim that he is indeed risen, has taken his place at the right hand of the Father, and "will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" (Nicene Creed).
Benedict XVI
Address in Ecumenical Prayer Service
April 18, 2008


  1. Anonymous1:12 AM

    This absolutely was a breakthrough address. This is "true" ecumenism...Benedictine style.

  2. I love this Pope more and more every day! I'm happily astounded at all he is accomplishing during his 5 day visit. It's nothing short of miraculous!

    Benedict speaks as a true pastor: the whole truth, with no apologies, and a lot of love.

    May God bless the Pope's ministry with the conversion of multitudes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  3. Anonymous1:37 AM

    Please be a bit more circumspect, Mr. Womack. After all, the man "subsisting in" the Chair of Peter (and his Guccis) is the same man who reveled that Gaudium et Spes is "counter-syllabus."

  4. Anonymous1:39 AM


  5. Anonymous1:58 AM

    "Counter Syllabus" isn't all that bad a way to characterise Gaudium et Spes. The Syllabus of Errors very necessarily warned against what was wrong with the modern world and way of doing and thinking about things. Gaudium et Spes focuses on what good there is in the modern way of doing and thinking about things.

    A please show more respect to Peter.

  6. Anonymous2:52 AM

    ind this pope extremely confusing!

    One minute, he tells us that we are saved through the Jews, and now he's saying implying that the Jews must convert to Catholicism.

    Does anyone not see the hypocrisy?

  7. Anonymous3:13 AM

    Anon. 01:37

    Sorry to be nitpicky, but the shoes are NOT Gucci or Pradi. They are made by an Italian shoemaker.

    Anon. 02:52

    John 4:22: (Christ is speaking here) You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.

    There is also a book called Salvation is from the Jews by Roy H. Shoeman, a Jewish convert to Catholism, which examines the role of Judaism in Salvation History.

  8. Anonymous3:38 AM

    One minute, he tells us that we are saved through the Jews, and now he's saying implying that the Jews must convert to Catholicism.

    Does anyone not see the hypocrisy?

    Everyone who believes what Jesus says should see no hypocrisy in what the Pope said. It is Jesus who said, "Salvation is of the Jews," and it is Jesus who said salvation is dependent upon faith in Him. If the Pope is being a hypocrite, then you may as well accuse Our Lord of the same thing. God elected Israel to prepare the world for the Messiah's coming and to prepare a people who would accept Him when He came. We, the Catholic Church, are the people who were prepared for His coming and who accepted Him. The Church's root and origin is in the Jewish people, as is the root and origin of Jesus Himself. Though Israel was unfaithful to Him, He was faithful to them -- He did not reject His People, but from them He drew a renewed Israel of God. And when some of the branches had to be broken off, He grafted in Gentiles, the branches from a wild olive plant, to replace them -- but it was the olive plant of the Community of Israel into which the Gentiles were grafted. He did not uproot the olive plant of Israel and replace it with a different olive plant. For, as St. Paul said, the gifts and election of God are irrevocable -- when God makes a promise, He keeps it.

    St. Paul also warns that the wild olive branches, the Gentiles, not boast against the natural, Jewish branches that were broken off, because the natural branches can be regrafted much more easily than the wild branches were grafted, and because the wild branches can be broken off just like the natural branches.

  9. Anonymous3:43 AM

    Lauren, you must not have read Schoeman's book carefully. Unfortunately Schoeman sugar coats Judaism's racism. Schoeman promotes the Zionists' racist and separatist theories that, even sugar-coated, should be recognizable and utterly repugnant to any well-catechized Catholic. His defense of the Zionist's claim to "eretz Israel" (nearly the entire Middle East) is clearly opposed to the perennial Magisterium.

    Here's what St. Cyprian cited on that matter:

    "On the Fulfillment of Matthew 23:36)
    6. That the Jews should lose Jerusalem, and should leave the land which they had received.

    "In Isaiah: 'Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers shall devour it in your sight; and the daughter of Zion shall be left deserted, and overthrown by foreign peoples, as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a keeper's lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a city which is besieged. And unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodoma, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.'[5] Also in the Gospel the Lord says: 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldst not! Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate.'"[6] (THREE BOOKS OF TESTIMONIES AGAINST THE JEWS., 6)

    As to Schoeman's Double Covenant theology, you ought to know better than to promote a book that advances such heresies.

    Also, Lauren, wherever his shoes are made, his sunglasses are reported to be Guccis.

  10. Anonymous4:11 AM

    Anon. 03:43,

    I didn't claim to have read Schoeman's book at all. I'll admit I haven't. I only mentioned it b/c it was recently recommended to me & the title refers to the verse in scripture we mentioned.

    "As to Schoeman's Double Covenant theology, you ought to know better than to promote a book that advances such heresies."

    I think this quote might deal with what you've said above.

    Shoeman:"This is particularly important today, since we are living in a time when the pernicious falsehood is being spread, even by some Catholic theologians, that there is no need to evangelize the Jews because they are already in their own saving covenant with God. Nothing could be further from the truth – after all, it was to Jews that Jesus said "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"(Jn 3:5) and "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn 6:53); it was Jews, and only to Jews, that Jesus evangelized during His time on earth ("Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" -- Mt. 10:5-6); and it was for evangelizing Jews that He was crucified."


    Sorry but I've read the sunglasses are Serengetti. I only mentioned it because of the way you refered to the Holy Father in the third post was unusual.

  11. Anonymous5:15 AM

    The anonymous poster obviously has not read Roy Schoeman's book. He does not espouse Double Covenant theology, nor does he defend the Zionist claim to the land of Israel (nor do Zionists identify Eretz Yisroel as nearly the entire Middle East -- a claim repeated by anti-Semities), nor does he promote Zionist theories at all.

  12. Anonymous5:46 AM

    Lauren, I respectfully suggest that you either read Schoeman's book yourself or cease recommending it based on partisan quotes. Or at least read the partisans who have exposed his heresies. As with much of what Mr. Potter claims, the truth is the opposite of his assertion. Schoeman espouses Zionist hegemony in the Middle East and he does indeed offer a species of double covenant theology. Expectedly, Potter also sends you to a "Catholic" website that continues to smear Dr. Sungenis even for remarks that Dr. Sungenis has recanted and apologized for. Read Forrest's site and read Dr. Sungenis and determine for yourself who offers perennial Catholic Magisterium.

    I have a detailed 35 page criticism of Schoeman's book in pdf format. If you want it, I will be happy to email it to you.

  13. Anonymous6:46 AM

    Oh yes, definitely go to "Sungenis and the Jews." The material there is definitely not pleasant reading, but it's thoroughly documented (including all of the things that were, so it is said, "recanted" and "apologised for"), and you'll see that the anonymous commenter here is not the first person to deliberately distort and tell lies about Roy Schoeman's book.

    Since our anonymous friend says he has critiqued Roy Schoeman's book, and claims it teaches the heresy of dual covenant theology, it shouldn't be difficult for him to provide evidence to support his accusation. I'd also be interested to see him explain away what Roy Schoeman says on page 10 of his book, where he clearly rejects dual covenant theology.

  14. Let's take the Schoeman discussion elsewhere. This was a fine speech by the Holy Father.

  15. Thank you very much, Poeta: let us keep the comments close to the content of the Pope's address. All future comments on other matters will be deleted.

  16. I've said it previously and I'll say it again..."anonymous" however many of you are are cowards. You come here with your antisemitism and Sedevacantist views and you call yourselves Catholic!

    You are an insult to all who who value tradition.

    Thank you Johnny, Jordan and Lauren for your clarity.

    And now, let me add something else about the Jews. Two weeks ago on the Journey Home with Marcus Grodi, Jewish convert and soon-to-be Mother Superior of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, Rosalind Moss said in response to a viewer's question on the Good Friday Prayer for the Conversion said that she, "Liked the old" and "Likes the new (EF)" That it was "up to Peter" to change it and more importantly that it was ANTISEMITIC to NOT pray for the CONVERSION OF THE JEWS. So, Anonymous, leave your antisemitic comments for somewhere else...and read the facts!

    To repeat:

    John 4:22: (Christ is speaking here) You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.

  17. It is deeply disturbing when people criticise the Pope for simply repeating the words of Christ with regard to salvation coming from the Jews, it should, I pray make you stop and rethink your attitude.

    There is no hypocrisy, it is your understanding that is at fault.

    Excellent speech by the Pope, you might as well have put it all in Bold as far as I'm concerned.

  18. Anonymous3:42 PM

    I hope the moderator will forgive me for posting something related to the Holy Father's comments on the Jewish Passover on this thread.

    There is nothing untraditional in the Holy father suggesting that there is some spiritual value in Jewish rites and that Christians can learn from them. The traditional doctrine regarding the Jews is not simply that the Church has replaced Israel and there is no further use for the Jewish people, but that God deliberately preserved those Jews who did not receive Christ as a witness to the truth of the Gospel. Here are Augustine and Aquinas on this point:

    St. Augustine, City of God, Book XVIII, Ch. 46

    "But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ. And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved." [Isaiah 10:22 and Romans 9:27-28] But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, "Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back alway." [Psalm 69:22-23 and Romans 9:9-10] Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindly read, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians have forged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people. For us, indeed, those suffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony which, in spite of themselves, they contribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed among all nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad. For a prophecy about this thing was sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, "My God, His mercy shall prevent me. My God hath shown me concerning mine enemies, that Thou shalt not slay them, lest they should at last forget Thy law: disperse them in Thy might."[Psalm 69:10-11] Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews the grace of His compassion, since, as saith the apostle, "their offence is the salvation of the Gentiles."[Romans 11:11] And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let the knowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by the Romans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no avail in this matter of which we treat. But it was not enough that he should say, "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law," unless he had also added, "Disperse them;" because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, and not every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them as witnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ.

    St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-IIae,10, 11

    "…though unbelievers sin in their rites, they may be tolerated, either on account of some good that ensues therefrom, or because of some evil avoided. Thus from the fact that the Jews observe their rites, which, of old, foreshadowed the truth of the faith which we hold, there follows this good -- that our very enemies bear witness to our faith, and that our faith is represented in a figure, so to speak. For this reason they are tolerated in the observance of their rites.

    On the other hand, the rites of other unbelievers, which are neither truthful nor profitable are by no means to be tolerated, except perchance in order to avoid an evil, e.g. the scandal or disturbance that might ensue, or some hindrance to the salvation of those who if they were unmolested might gradually be converted to the faith. For this reason the Church, at times, has tolerated the rites even of heretics and pagans, when unbelievers were very numerous."

    Note that St. Thomas attributes a positive theological value to Jewish rites (like passover), while pagan rites are only to be tolerated for prudential reasons to avoid greater evils.

    Thus, I think there is quite a difference between pointing to the spiritual value in the Jewish liturgy versus, say, allowing pagan worship in Christian holy sites as seen at Assisi.

  19. Anonymous1:08 AM

    This speech truly is positively groundbreaking, perhaps the most significant of all. The only one that is problematic, though, is the Speech to the Jews, especially the misunderstood quote that Salvation is from the Jews. Before we quote it, let us understand what it means, because just by quoting it, many are led to false interpretations.

    From the Jews means that Jesus Christ comes from them, in a sense, to fulfill their laws and traditions. It does not mean that, since year 33 AD, Judaism is a path to salvation, which it is not. Salvations is from (Latin ex), that is, away from, now separated from them. It is all spoken in a past sense, since Christ fulfills all their, and our hopes.

    [see St Thomas' Commentary on this passage:

    almost midway down]

    The only irritation I have with this latter speech of the Pope [to the Jews], with all due respect and forgiveness for this boldness, is the possible misinterpretation of this quote on the part of many. But all this is overcome with joy at the words in the other speeches, perhaps lacking the clearness we would like, but we remember that transition needs to proceed slowly, and abrupt change may be more harmful. Let us continue to pray.

  20. Why is there not any explicit mentioning that it is necessary to convert to the Catholic faith for salvation? This must be made explicit otherwise protestants and schismatics might assume that we are working on some kind of general unity within common doctrinal agreements. This would therefore destroy the Church’s mission and supposedly what true ecumenism is about (the unity of Christians under the Catholic faith). Ambiguity is very dangerous.


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